Friday, December 31, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED THIS WEEKEND FOR FLORIDA'S SOUTHEASTERN COAST

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers along the Atlantic coast from Palm Beach County south to Miami-Dade County to use extreme caution this weekend as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected Friday and Saturday due to strong onshore winds. When red flags are flying beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Atlantic Ocean can be dangerous.

“Rip currents can be life-threatening to anyone entering the water along the beaches of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties this holiday weekend,” State Meteorologist Amy Godsey said. “Beachgoers and surfers should check the rip current outlook, swim near lifeguards and remember the beach warning flag system before going into the water to ensure a safe and enjoyable Florida beach experience.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND FOR WESTERN FLORIDA PANHANDLE BEACHES

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers to use caution today through Saturday as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected along the Gulf Coast from Bay County west to Escambia County. There is also an elevated threat for rip currents this weekend along the beaches of Gulf and Franklin County. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Gulf of Mexico can be dangerous.

“Strong southeast winds across the northern Gulf Coast will increase Thursday and persist into the New Year as a cold front approaches from the west. These winds are expected to cause rough surf and favorable conditions for strong and frequent rip currents,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Beachgoers in the Florida Panhandle should check the rip current outlook and remember the warning flag signs before entering the water this holiday weekend.”

The National Weather Service has also issued a Small Craft Advisory for the Florida Panhandle’s coastal waters as seas are forecast to build as high as eight feet. These wind and surf conditions support dangerous rip currents and are life-threatening to anyone entering the water.

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Monday, December 27, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED ALONG PENINSULA GULF COAST BEACHES THROUGH MONDAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers along the Peninsula Gulf Coast to use caution as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected today through Monday due to strong winds from the Northwest. The cold, windy conditions are bringing dangerous rip currents to the counties of Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee.

“The northwesterly winds now bringing extremely cold temperatures across the state will also cause a high risk of rip currents along the Peninsula Gulf Coast,” said Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer. “Residents and visitors to the Gulf beaches should use extreme caution while on the beach, check the rip current outlook and follow any instructions from safety officials.”

A High Surf Advisory is also in effect for these counties through 7 p.m. Monday. The offshore waves will be 10-14 feet and breaking waves will be 5-8 feet, resulting in dangerous rip currents for the area. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Gulf of Mexico can be dangerous.

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

POLAR AIR MASS TO BRING FREEZING TEMPERATURES ACROSS FLORIDA TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging residents and visitors throughout Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark tonight and is expected to continue through Wednesday. Very strong northwesterly winds will be pushing a polar air mass into the southeast throughout the next few days and will push wind chill values into the teens.

“This system will bring not only extremely cold temperatures and wind chill, but will also bring with it very dry weather,” said Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “These dry conditions make it very possible for dangerous wildfires to occur and spread. We encourage all Floridians to not only practice cold weather safety, but to protect themselves and their property from wildfires.”

A Hard Freeze Warning is in effect tonight for Alachua, Bay, Baker, Bradford, Calhoun, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Gadsden, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties.

Starting tonight, Freeze Warnings will be in effect for the counties of Brevard, Desoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Manatee, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, and Volusia. Glades, Hendry and Palm Beach counties will also be under a Freeze Warning.

Similar conditions are expected throughout the next few days. A Freeze Watch is in effect from late Monday night through Tuesday morning for much of Central and South Florida. A Hard Freeze Watch will be in effect for the same North Florida areas’ following tonight’s warning.

Overall, dangerous temperatures and wind chill values will affect most of the state tonight. If residents must venture outdoors, make sure to take all precautions necessary to protect yourself and your family.

Wind Chill Advisories or Warnings mean the combination of very cold air and strong winds will make temperatures feel colder than they actually are. Hard Freeze Warnings and Freeze Warnings are issued when sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely for a prolonged period of time.

These conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. Young children, the elderly and the homeless are especially vulnerable to the cold so take measures to protect them. Exposed water pipes need to have adequate protection from the cold temperatures.

Residents and visitors should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety. The “5 P’s” are: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety.

The following actions are important safety measures:
• Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
• Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles. Keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
• Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
• Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
• Drink non-alcoholic fluids.
• Shelter or bring inside animals, especially pets.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS REMIND ALL FLORIDIANS TO PRACTICE COLD WEATHER SAFETY THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are reminding residents and visitors to the Sunshine State to practice cold weather safety this holiday season.

“Weather forecasts are indicating that we may experience colder than usual temperatures over the next week,” said Division of Emergency Management Director, David Halstead. “As we gather with friends and family to enjoy the holiday season, it is important to keep in mind those cold weather safety tips that could prevent unnecessary injury.”

The following actions are important cold weather safety measures:
• Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
• Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles, keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
• Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
• Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
• Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.

December is an excellent time to commit to building a personal disaster supply kit. Individuals and families will benefit from taking the time to put supply items together in a storage container. A collection of food, water, clothing, essential documents, medicines, and cash will form a foundation for safety residents can add to and monitor throughout the year. Weather radios, flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits, smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are essential supply items that everyone can use. These items are widely available and reasonably priced to fit any budget.

If your home kit is in order, now is the time to refresh the supplies. Although most canned food items last for quite awhile, check the expiration date and consider donating non-expired items to your local food bank or charity. Bottled water should not be stored for prolonged periods but can be used to water plants and Christmas trees.

Disaster Supply Kit Items:

• Water - at least one gallon daily per person for three to seven days

• Food - at least enough for three to seven days:
o non-perishable packaged or canned food/juices
o food for infants or the elderly
o snack foods
o non-electric can opener
o cooking tools and fuel
o paper plates and plastic utensils

• Blankets, pillows, etc.
• Clothing: seasonal, rain gear, sturdy shoes
• First aid kit, medicines, prescription drugs
• Special items for babies and the elderly
• Toiletries, hygiene items, moisture wipes
• Flashlight and batteries
• Battery-operated radio and NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio
• Cash as banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods
• Keys
• Toys, books and games
• Important documents – in a waterproof container
• Insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
• Tools – keep a set with you
• Fill vehicles with fuel

• Pet care items:
o Proper identification, immunization records, medications
o Ample supply of food and water
o Carrier or cage
o Muzzle and leash

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Monday, December 13, 2010

STRONG NORTHWEST WINDS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS ALONG GULF COAST BEACHES TODAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers along the majority of the Gulf Coast to use caution as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected today due to strong winds from the Northwest. The cold, breezy conditions will bring a high risk of rip currents to Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf counties in North Florida. Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties are also at high risk.

“The same northwesterly winds that are producing extremely cold temperatures across the state will also cause a high risk of rip currents along the Gulf Coast,” said Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer. “Residents and visitors to the Gulf beaches should check the rip current outlook before entering the water and follow any instructions from safety officials.” A moderate rip current risk is also in effect for the Western Big Bend region.

There is also a High Surf Advisory in effect until 4:00 pm Tuesday for West Central Florida counties including Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee. The offshore waves will be 15-20 feet and breaking waves will be 6-8 feet, resulting in dangerous rip currents for the area. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Gulf of Mexico can be dangerous.

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

ARCTIC COLD FRONT CONTINUES TO BRING COLDEST TEMPERATURES YET THIS SEASON ACROSS FLORIDA THROUGH WEDNESDAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are again urging all residents and visitors throughout Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark tonight through Wednesday morning. The National Weather Service has issued a Hard Freeze Warning for all of North and Central Florida, and also for Glades, Hendry and Palm Beach counties. A Freeze Warning has also been issued for the rest of South Florida. The entire state is under either a Wind Chill Advisory or Warning, depending on the location.

“Temperatures across the state tonight and tomorrow will be the lowest yet thus far this season, with some areas experiencing temperatures nearly 30 degrees lower than normal for this time of year,” said Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “It is vital that all residents and visitors remember the “Five P’s” of cold weather safety: Protect People, Protect Plants, Protect Pets, Protect Exposed Pipes, and Practice Fire Safety.”

Wind Chill Advisories or Warnings mean the combination of very cold air and strong winds will make temperatures feel colder than they actually are. Hard Freeze Warnings and Freeze Warnings are issued when sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely for a prolonged period of time. These conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. Young children, the elderly and the homeless are especially vulnerable to the cold so take measures to protect them. Exposed water pipes need to have adequate protection from the cold temperatures.

Combined low temperatures and wind chills will be low enough to meet shelter opening criteria in North, Central and South Florida tonight and continuing through Wednesday morning. Overall, dangerous temperatures and wind chill values will affect the entire state tonight and tomorrow. If residents must venture outdoors, make sure to take all precautions necessary to protect yourself and your family.

The following actions are important safety measures:
• Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
• Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles. Keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
• Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
• Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
• Drink non-alcoholic fluids.
• Shelter or bring inside animals, especially pets.
For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Friday, December 10, 2010

FDEM FEATURED PARTNER WITH RADIO DISNEY FOR CONCERT IN CELEBRATION, FL

Florida Division of Emergency Management will be the highlighted organization during Radio Disney’s Holiday Concert in Celebration, FL. The Division’s character, Professor Tinkermeister, will be on stage with weather experiments, trivia and games. The professor will also be in the Division’s booth to teach families about disaster preparedness. The concert begins at 6:00 pm on Saturday, December 11, 2010.

“We are very grateful for this partnership with Radio Disney,” said Division of Emergency Management Director, David Halstead. ”This event is an excellent opportunity for the Division to speak face to face with Floridians about the importance of severe weather preparedness.”

Florida students can win a visit by Professor Tinkermeister to their school by registering at the Division’s booth. Featured on www.KidsGetAPlan.com, the Professor is a spokesperson who provides family-friendly all weather hazards information. Kids can use the website to help their families be prepared for Florida’s range of severe weather events. The winning school will be notified by phone.

Division representatives will be on hand throughout the evening to provide important disaster preparedness information in their on-site booth. Radio Disney is anticipating 15,000+ residents and visitors to be in attendance.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FLORIDA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS REMIND STUDENTS: DEADLINE FOR 2011 SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK POSTER/ VIDEO CONTESTS IS FRIDAY, JANUARY 7

The Florida Division of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross are reminding Florida students that the deadline to submit entries for the annual Severe Weather Awareness Week poster and public service announcement video contest is Friday, January 7, 2011.

Annual Poster Contest
Fourth and fifth graders in all of Florida’s 67 school districts as well as students who attend private schools or are home-schooled are invited to participate in the statewide poster contest. All entries must be postmarked on or before FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2011 and must arrive at the American Red Cross in Tallahassee no later than MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2011. Winners will be notified by phone. The winners' artwork is scheduled to be displayed in the State Emergency Operations Center during the first full week of February 2011. Prizes will include tickets for the winner and their family to Walt Disney World, weather radios and many other exciting things to be announced soon. For complete contest rules go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011.

Annual Video PSA Contest
Florida middle and high school students in grades 6-8 and 9-12, including students who attend private schools or are home-schooled are invited to produce a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) incorporating a safety or preparedness message about one of the following topics: Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Safety or Building a Disaster Supply Kit.

Final digital videos must be mastered as a DVD for submission to the Division. All entries must be postmarked on or before FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2011 and must arrive at the Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee no later than MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2011. For complete contest rules and topic information, go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011.

There will be one individual or group (limit four people per group) winner chosen for both middle school and high school-level videos. The winning video(s) will be professionally re-produced for broadcast use by the Division of Emergency Management in their statewide public awareness campaign. A production team will come to the winner(s) hometown and will spend a full day shooting the winning PSA, with the winner(s) acting as the project director. Additional prizes will include tickets for the winner and their family to Walt Disney World, weather radios and many other exciting things to be announced soon.

Winners will be announced on January 29, 2011, at a kick-off event for Severe Weather Awareness Week in Central Florida. Winners unable to attend this event will be mailed their additional prizes.

These contests are part of an annual public awareness campaign that also includes the statewide Tornado Drill to be conducted by the National Weather Service Offices in Florida at 10:10 a.m. Eastern Time (9:10 a.m. Central Time), on Wednesday, February 2, 2011.

For more information on Florida’s 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Monday, December 6, 2010

ARCTIC COLD FRONT TO BRING BELOW-FREEZING TEMPERATURES ACROSS FLORIDA THROUGH THURSDAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging residents and visitors throughout Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark tonight through Thursday morning. Temperatures could reach the lower 20s away from the coast across Northern Florida and near the freezing mark in pockets as far south as the Everglades. The National Weather Service has already issued Freeze Warnings for a large portion of Central and South Florida, with Hard Freeze Warnings in place for much of North Florida. Though Freeze Warnings are in effect for inland areas of South Florida, areas closer to the coast are under a Freeze Watch.

“Residents and visitors across the state should prepare for a long period of freezing temperatures each morning that could harm vegetation, pipes, animals and people,” said Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “These cold temperatures may prompt the opening of shelters across the state and we encourage all Floridians to protect themselves and practice cold weather safety.”

A freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely for at least two hours. These conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. The elderly and the homeless are especially vulnerable to the cold so take measures to protect them. Exposed water pipes need to have adequate protection from the cold temperatures.

Combined low temperatures and wind chills will be low enough to meet shelter opening criteria in North, Central and South Florida beginning tonight and continuing through Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Residents and visitors should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety. The “5 P’s” are: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety.

The following actions are important safety measures:
• Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
• Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles. Keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
• Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
• Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
• Drink non-alcoholic fluids.
• Shelter or bring inside animals, especially pets.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

STATE OFFICIALS ENCOURAGE RESIDENTS ACROSS NORTHERN FLORIDA TO PREPARE FOR FREEZING TEMPERATURES TONIGHT AND THURSDAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are encouraging residents and visitors across northern portions of the state to prepare for freezing overnight temperatures through Thursday. The National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Warning from Escambia County east to Nassau County and south to Citrus County through early Thursday morning. A Freeze Warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely for at least two hours. Freeze Warnings are likely to be issued for the same areas Thursday night as well.

“Though no Hard Freeze Warnings have been issued, this is the first widespread freeze of the season,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Now is a good opportunity for residents to review cold weather safety tips and prepare for future freezes.”

Throughout inland areas of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend and Northeast Florida, temperatures will reach between 28 and 32 degrees with slightly warmer temperatures along the immediate coast. For locations that do not quite reach freezing tonight, low temperatures in the middle 30’s will still support areas of frost formation. These conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation.

Floridians should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety. The “5 P’s” are: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety.

The following actions are important cold weather safety measures:
• Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
• Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles, keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
• Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
• Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
• Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED FOR NORTHWEST FLORIDA BEACHES TODAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers in Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties to use extreme caution as a high risk of rip currents is expected today. A moderate risk of rip currents is also expected for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. There is also a Small Craft Advisory for the entire northern Gulf coast west of the Suwannee River entrance. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Gulf of Mexico can be dangerous.

“Rip currents are one of the most dangerous hazards at the beach,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “With the high risk of rip currents in the area, residents and visitors to the beaches of Northwest Florida should check the rip current outlook before entering the water and follow any instructions from safety officials.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

2010 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON ENDS, WILDFIRE AND SEVERE WEATHER SEASONS BEGIN

Florida emergency management officials gathered today at the State Emergency Operations Center to mark the official end of the 2010 Hurricane Season and remind Floridians that emergency preparedness does not end with hurricane season.

“Florida was blessed this year with minimal impacts from a very active hurricane season,” said Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “However, potentially serious drought conditions are developing statewide and beginning to resemble the drought conditions of 1998 which led to the most severe wildfire season in Florida’s recent history.”

The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season was extremely active, tying 1995 for the third most named storms in a season. There were 19 named storms, including 12 hurricanes, five of which became a category three or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Since 1944, only two seasons (1969 and 2005) have had 12 or more hurricanes in a single season. Though the Sunshine State was spared a major landfall, Tropical Storm Bonnie brought several inches of rain over portions of Southern Florida.

“The La NiƱa phenomenon that produced an above-average hurricane season may also produce an equally active wildfire season for the Southeastern United States,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Floridians should monitor drought conditions and heed any local officials’ advisories about burning or water restrictions.”

In addition to the 1998 wildfire season, Florida has also experienced several other destructive severe weather events in recent years. In February 2007, a deadly tornado outbreak struck across Central Florida. Known as the Groundhog Day Tornadoes, three separate tornadoes in the early morning hours touched down between Lake and Volusia counties, two of which were EF-3 strength on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (155-160 mph winds). The swath of damage extended nearly 70 miles and caused 21 fatalities and $270 million in damage, making it the deadliest tornado disaster in the United States that year.

To monitor these potential weather conditions, residents and visitors are encouraged to have a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio. This portable radio alerts listeners to warnings of possible tornados, severe storms and potential for wildfire. The NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio is available for purchase through various Internet outlets and at many retail electronics, sporting goods, and marine accessory stores. Floridians are also encouraged to purchase spare batteries for their NOAA Weather Radio, as electricity can be lost during emergency events.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THANKSGIVING TRAVELERS URGED TO USE CAUTION AS POTENTIALLY DENSE FOG AFFECTS THE STATE THROUGH SATURDAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging residents and visitors to use caution during the Thanksgiving holiday as patches of dense fog may affect North Florida roadways through Thursday morning and extend into Saturday across portions of Central and South Florida.

“An increasingly humid air mass ahead of an approaching cold front, along with warmer than normal overnight temperatures and calm winds, will create conditions that are favorable for dense fog formation across much of the Florida Panhandle and portions of the Florida Peninsula each evening and early morning,” said Amy Godsey, State Meteorologist. “The dense fog is expected to lift by mid-morning. Until then, motorists travelling in these areas should remain alert and prepared for sudden drops in visibility”.

Should driving conditions be impaired, the National Weather Service will issue a Dense Fog Advisory, which means visibilities may be reduced to less than one-quarter mile.

Drivers should avoid traveling in dense fog and follow these safety tips:
• During the morning hours when fog is heavier, slow down and allow for extra space between vehicles.
• Use low-beam headlights and be prepared to stop on short notice.
• Avoid driving distractions such as mobile phones and music devices.
• Monitor local road conditions for possible road closures.
• Use extreme caution and allow extra time to reach your destination.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Monday, November 22, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED FOR SOUTHEAST FLORIDA BEACHES TODAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to use extreme caution as a high risk of rip currents is expected today. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Atlantic Ocean can be dangerous.

“Though the weather will be warm and sunny in Southeast Florida today, breezy onshore winds will cause a high risk of rip currents along the state’s southern Atlantic coast,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Beachgoers should check the warning flag signs before entering the water and swim within sight of a lifeguard.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Monday, November 15, 2010

FLORIDA PANHANDLE AND BIG BEND RESIDENTS URGED TO STAY ALERT AS STORM SYSTEM BRINGS POTENTIAL FOR SEVERE WEATHER TONIGHT AND TOMORROW

TALLAHASSEE – State and local emergency management officials are urging residents and visitors in the Florida Panhandle and Florida Big Bend areas to stay alert and exercise caution as a potentially severe storm system moves into the area today and tomorrow.

“The Storm Prediction Center has placed all of the Florida Panhandle and Western Big Bend in an area for an enhanced risk of severe storms on Monday night and early Tuesday morning,” said Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management David Halstead. “This severe weather threat may spread east on Tuesday, and we encourage residents and visitors across the region to monitor this weather system and to be prepared to act if warnings are issued.”

This storm system will have the potential to produce isolated tornadoes and damaging wind gusts, especially during the overnight hours, along with one to two inches of rain. Damaging wind gusts will also be possible in the Florida Big Bend on Tuesday. Residents and visitors to the state should monitor local media outlets and ensure that their NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio alert settings are turned on.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org.

CONTINUED HIGH RISK OF LARGE WAVES AND RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED FOR EAST CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST FLORIDA BEACHES TODAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are again urging beachgoers and boaters along Florida’s East Coast to exercise caution today as lingering high waves associated with a storm system in the central Atlantic Ocean continue to cause hazardous marine conditions. A high risk of rip currents is forecast today for the Atlantic Coast between Volusia and Palm Beach counties, with a moderate risk for dangerous rip currents in Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Flagler, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

“Lingering ocean swells from this large system may once again bring rough seas, minor beach erosion and strong rip currents to much of Florida’s East Coast today,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “These impacts will continue to make area beach conditions dangerous, and beachgoers and mariners should heed local officials’ warnings and avoid swimming where red flags are flying.”

A High Surf Advisory is in effect for Palm Beach and Broward Counties for large wave action, rip currents and localized beach erosion through Monday evening. The high seas over the open Atlantic Ocean will cause breaking waves along the coast to be as high as 13 feet near Palm Beach County and between four and nine feet along the Broward and Miami-Dade coasts. Waves of five to seven feet are expected for the eastern Central Florida coast today.

Transit through inlets will be dangerous for mariners, especially during times of outgoing tides, and there is a Small Craft Advisory in effect along Florida’s East Coast between Nassau and Broward counties through tonight.

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Friday, November 12, 2010

FLORIDA EAST COAST RESIDENTS URGED TO USE CAUTION THIS WEEKEND AS STORM SYSTEM BRINGS POTENTIAL FOR LARGE WAVES AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers along Florida’s East Coast to exercise caution as a complex storm system off the United States Eastern seaboard will bring a variety of marine hazards to the state this weekend.

“Breezy winds and ocean swells from this large system could bring rough seas, pounding surf, beach erosion and numerous strong rip currents to Florida’s East Coast today through Sunday,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “This system is likely to make beach and boating conditions very dangerous, and we strongly urge beachgoers and boaters to heed local officials’ warnings and to avoid swimming where red flags are flying.”

Seas over the open Atlantic Ocean are forecast to build between eight and 13 feet on Friday. Large northeast swells will cause seas to build as high as 10 to 15 feet Saturday, with eight to 13 foot seas expected on Sunday. Transit through inlets will be dangerous for mariners, especially during times of outgoing tides.

These sea heights will likely translate to large breaking surf along East Coast beaches of between five and 12 feet, which will peak in height on Saturday. Some waves could be as large as 14 feet. A High Surf Advisory is in effect for Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach and Broward counties for large wave action, rip currents and localized beach erosion through Monday morning. However, dangerous rip currents are expected along Florida’s entire East Coast between Nassau and Miami-Dade counties through Sunday.

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

FLORIDA CABINET APPROVES 2010 STATEWIDE EMERGENCY SHELTER PLAN

TALLAHASSEE—Governor Charlie Crist today announced the approval of the 2010 Statewide Emergency Shelter Plan by the Florida Cabinet. Since 1999, state, federal and local agencies have created 1,113,058 shelter spaces, approximately 77 percent of the state’s shelter demand.

“Though Florida has been blessed recently with quiet hurricane seasons, it is vital that our residents and visitors have a safe place to shelter should our state be threatened by a storm once again,” said Governor Crist. “I applaud the ongoing commitment of Florida’s Legislature, state and local agencies to ensuring our state has adequate shelter capacity.”

Every other year, the Division of Emergency Management updates Florida’s local and regional planning guide for the construction of new public schools, community colleges and university facilities to meet the Florida Department of Education’s Public Shelter Design Criteria. The 2010 Statewide Emergency Shelter Plan is a five-year plan and outlines the requirements for establishing safe public shelter spaces throughout the state.

As Florida’s population continues to grow, it is estimated that from 2010 to 2015, nearly 550,000 new residents will reside in areas vulnerable to the effects of major hurricanes, with approximately 20 percent seeking safety in public shelters during hurricanes. To meet these challenges, the State builds new shelter capacity through a combination of retrofitting existing schools and public facilities and enhancing the hurricane resistance of new schools.

“Creating new shelter spaces is truly a team effort and we are grateful for our partners at the Department of Education and local school boards for their dedication to protecting Floridians during disasters,” said Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “Together, we will continue to work towards providing safe shelter to all those who need it during a disaster.”

For more information on the 2010 Statewide Emergency Shelter Plan, the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org.

Monday, November 8, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED FOR SOUTHEAST FLORIDA BEACHES TODAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to use extreme caution as a high risk of rip currents is expected today. There is also a moderate risk of rip currents for the remainder of the Atlantic Coast between Nassau and Martin counties and a Small Craft Advisory for all of Florida’s Atlantic coastal waters. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Atlantic Ocean can be dangerous.

“Northerly winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour combined with ocean swells of two to four feet will likely create a high risk of rip currents along Florida’s southern Atlantic coast today,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “We strongly urge beachgoers to heed local officials’ warnings and stay out of the water where red flags are flying.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED FOR NORTHWEST FLORIDA BEACHES TODAY

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties to use extreme caution as a high risk of rip currents is expected today. There is also a Small Craft Advisory for Western Panhandle counties. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Gulf of Mexico can be dangerous.

“Rip currents are one of the most dangerous hazards at the beach,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “With the high risk of rip currents in the area, residents and visitors to the beaches of Northwest Florida should check the rip current outlook before entering the water and follow any instructions from safety officials.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Friday, October 15, 2010

If a Disaster Struck Today, Would You and Your Family Be Ready?

If a disaster struck today, would you and your family be ready?

As Floridians, we know that disasters can happen anywhere and anytime in the Sunshine State. No part of the state is immune from disasters. We must always be ready to protect ourselves, our families, and our loved ones from a potential catastrophe. So, as we enter into the final months of hurricane season, let’s take a moment to review some important preparedness information.

First, let’s talk about the importance of a disaster-survival plan. It is crucial for all Floridians to have a disaster-survival plan, as proper emergency planning can greatly reduce the risk of disasters to the state’s residents and visitors. This plan should be flexible, and serve as a guide for individuals both before and during disasters. Some really important questions to ask yourself when making a disaster-survival plan include:

 If my family has to evacuate before a disaster, where will we go?
 How am I going to take care of elderly family members, friends, or neighbors during emergencies?
 What accommodations have to be made for any family members or friends with disabilities or special needs?
 Where are my pets and animals (including farm animals!) going to go if I need to leave my home? Service animals for persons with disabilities or special needs are exceptions.
 What evacuation route am I going to take if I need to leave my home?


To help you build your individual and family disaster-survival plan, you can go to www.FloridaDisaster.org. There, you can click on the “Get A Family Plan” link, and start building your plan today.

We should also take a moment to go over the importance of having a disaster supply kit. After some disasters, it may take emergency managers and first responders up to three days to reach you. During this time, you may have to provide for yourself and your family. We urge all Floridians to have the following items on hand and centrally located in case of such emergencies:


 2 gallons of water per person, per day (for drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes)
 Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and soups
 Special foods for babies or older people
 Manual can opener
 Pots, pans, plates, and utensils
 Food for pets
 Prescription medications
 First Aid kit
 Cash (Small bills are best. Think $1’s, $5’s, and $10’s.)
 Important documents

It is never too soon to prepare for disasters. You can take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family by building a disaster-survival plan and disaster supply kit today.

If a disaster struck today, would you and your family be ready?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hurricane Paula Update

MESSAGE OF THE DAY

“Though the official forecast does not have Hurricane Paula making landfall in Florida, it is an unpredictable storm and residents and visitors across South Florida are urged to monitor its progress carefully,” said David Halstead, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Now is a good time to ensure your family disaster plan and supply kit are up-to-date and ready.”


CURRENT SITUATION - 11A.M.

o At 11 a.m. EDT, Hurricane Paula was located in the Yucatan Channel about 65 miles from the western tip of Cuba and 345 miles southwest of Key West.

o Paula is still a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with maximum winds near 100 mph. However, some weakening is possible over the next two days.

o The National Hurricane Center has issued Tropical Storm Watches for the Florida Keys from Craig Key westward, including the Dry Tortugas. A Tropical Storm Watch means tropical storm force winds are possible in the Watch area within the next 48 hours.

o Based on the latest forecast, this system is expected to continue moving northward through the Yucatan Channel before turning northeast this afternoon. Strong upper level steering currents will move Paula eastward tomorrow, taking the system across the northern coast of Cuba over the next four to five days.

o Beyond 36 hours, the official forecast is somewhat uncertain and therefore, there is a small possibility that the center of Paula could move through the Florida Straits. A cold front moving through the state will pull tropical moisture from Paula northward into South Florida and rainfall amounts may approach two to four inches by Friday.


STATE ACTIONS

o The State Emergency Operations Center is closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Paula and prepared to respond as necessary to support any impacted counties.

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS FOR THE PUBLIC

o Residents and visitors in South Florida are urged to monitor this system, review their family and business disaster supply plans and kits and make any updates necessary.

o Mariners in South Florida should make preparations to secure their vessels in safe harbor.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED THIS WEEK FOR SOUTHEAST FLORIDA BEACHES

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers along the Atlantic coast from Palm Beach County south to Miami-Dade County to use caution today through Thursday as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected. There is also an elevated threat for rip currents this week along Northeast and East Central Florida beaches. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Atlantic Ocean can be dangerous.

“Strong north-northeast winds will develop along the Atlantic coast and persist through Thursday, which could cause rough surf and favorable conditions for strong and frequent rip currents,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Beachgoers in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties should check the rip current outlook and remember the warning flag signs before entering the water this week.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
• Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
• Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
• Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
• Get help from a lifeguard.
• If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
• Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
• Yell instructions on how to escape.
• Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
• Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
• Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
• Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
• Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
• File a float plan at your marina.
• Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts.

FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND THE AMERICAN RED CROSS ANNOUNCE 2011 SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK, POSTER AND VIDEO CONTESTS


The Florida Division of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross today announced that they will again team up to sponsor Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week from January 31 – February 4, 2011. The annual public awareness campaign includes a poster and video public service announcement contest.

"Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week is an important time to educate our residents and visitors about the natural hazards that may affect the Sunshine State,” said Director David Halstead of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “We appreciate this strong partnership with the American Red Cross and their commitment to ensuring Floridians are prepared for any disaster that may occur.”

During each day of the Week, a different weather event that may affect Florida will be highlighted:

Monday, January 31: Lightning
Tuesday, February 1: Marine Hazards and Rip Currents
Wednesday, February 2: Tornadoes and Thunderstorms
Thursday, February 3: Hurricanes and Flooding
Friday, February 4: Temperature Extremes and Wildfires

“We are excited to once again partner with the Division of Emergency Management on the annual poster contest,” said Karen Hagan, Florida Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross. “These types of outreach efforts to get our youth involved in disaster preparedness activities are an important step in building a culture of preparedness in Florida.”

Annual Poster Contest

Fourth and fifth graders in all of Florida’s 67 school districts as well as students who attend private schools or are home-schooled are invited to participate in the statewide poster contest. All entries must be postmarked on or before FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2011 and must arrive at the American Red Cross in Tallahassee no later than MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2011. Winners will be notified by phone. The winners' artwork is scheduled to be displayed in the State Emergency Operations Center during the first full week of February 2011. Prizes will include tickets for the winner and their family to Walt Disney World, weather radios and many other exciting things to be announced soon. For complete contest rules go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011.

Annual Video PSA Contest

Florida middle and high school students in grades 6-8 and 9-12, including students who attend private schools or are home-schooled are invited to produce a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) incorporating a safety or preparedness message about one of the following topics: Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Safety or Building a Disaster Supply Kit.

Final digital videos must be mastered as a DVD for submission to the Division. All entries must be postmarked on or before FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2011 and must arrive at the Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee no later than MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2011. For complete contest rules and topic information, go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011.

There will be one individual or group (limit four people per group) winner chosen for both middle school and high school-level videos. The winning video(s) will be professionally re-produced for broadcast use by the Division of Emergency Management in their statewide public awareness campaign. A production team will come to the winner(s) hometown and will spend a full day shooting the winning PSA, with the winner(s) acting as the project director. Additional prizes will include tickets for the winner and their family to Walt Disney World, weather radios and many other exciting things to be announced soon.

Winners will be announced on January 29, 2011, at a kick-off event for Severe Weather Awareness Week in Central Florida. Winners unable to attend this event will be mailed their additional prizes.
These contests are part of an annual public awareness campaign that also includes the statewide Tornado Drill to be conducted by the National Weather Service Offices in Florida at 10:10 a.m. Eastern Time (9:10 a.m. Central Time), on Wednesday, February 2, 2011.

For more information on Florida’s 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

STATE OFFICIALS URGE SOUTH AND EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA RESIDENTS TO PREPARE TODAY FOR ANTICIPATED IMPACTS FROM TROPICAL STORM NICOLE


Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging residents and visitors in South and East Central Florida to be extremely cautious when using area roadways and when near local canals, rivers, and other water bodies as rain bands from Tropical Storm Nicole affect the area both today and tomorrow. The State Emergency Operations Center will return to a Level 3 activation effective 1 p.m. today, but will continue to monitor and support counties that may be impacted.

“Though the system has now been named Tropical Storm Nicole, the official forecast track keeps the center of the storm east of Florida, with no anticipated landfall,” said David Halstead, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “South and East Central Florida residents should prepare for heavy rainfall and possible flooding from this system.”

There is also the potential for isolated tornadoes and gusty winds. All residents and visitors should remember to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” when approaching a flooded roadway, as only six inches of moving water can cause drivers to lose control of a vehicle.

All Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings for the state of Florida have been discontinued. However, a Flood Watch remains in effect for Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties through 8 p.m. tonight. There is also a Flood Watch in effect for Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee, Brevard, Osceola, Orange, and Seminole counties through 5 p.m. today.

To avoid getting caught in a flood, follow these safety tips:

- A NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio is one of the best ways to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio or your favorite news source for vital weather-related information.
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Do not enter areas subject to flooding, including: dips, low spots, canals, ditches, etc.
- Avoid already flooded areas, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
- Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SOUTH FLORIDA RESIDENTS URGED TO USE CAUTION AS TROPICAL DEPRESSION 16 BRINGS HEAVY RAIN AND THE POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING




Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging residents and visitors in the South Florida region to use extreme caution near local canals and rivers and on area roadways as Tropical Depression 16 is forecast to impact the area today and tomorrow. The system will likely bring the threat for heavy rainfall and flooding and the National Hurricane Center’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system this afternoon to determine if a tropical storm has formed. The State Emergency Operations Center is activated to a Level 2 or partial activation to support counties that may be impacted.

“Though this system is unlikely to develop into a hurricane, it is important to remember that a storm doesn’t have to be a hurricane to cause loss of life and devastating property damage,” said David Halstead, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “It is vital that residents and visitors in South Florida remember the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” when approaching a flooded roadway and heed all warnings from the National Weather Service and local officials.”

A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the Florida coast from Jupiter Inlet south to East Cape Sable and for all of the Florida Keys. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for areas north of Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet and north of East Cape Sable to Chokoloskee, Florida. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area within 48 hours.

A Flood Watch is in effect until 2 p.m. on Wednesday for Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and mainland Monroe counties. A Flood Watch means that there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. Residents should monitor forecasts and be alert for possible flooding conditions.

To avoid getting caught in a flood, follow these safety tips:

- A NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio is one of the best ways to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio or your favorite news source for vital weather-related information.
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, canals, ditches, etc.
- Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
- Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Friday, September 24, 2010

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED THIS WEEKEND FOR CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST FLORIDA BEACHES

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers along the Atlantic coast from Volusia County south to Miami-Dade County to use caution this weekend as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected. There is also a moderate risk of rip currents for beaches from Nassau to Flagler counties. When red flags are flying, beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Atlantic Ocean can be dangerous.

“Persistent onshore winds and large ocean swells will cause a high risk of dangerous rip currents along Central and Southeast Florida beaches this weekend,” Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer said. “We strongly urge beachgoers to heed local officials’ warnings and stay out of the water where red flags are flying.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Also, rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

In Florida, rip currents kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents. The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When at the beach:
Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.
Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
Never fight against the current.
Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
Get help from a lifeguard.
If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
Yell instructions on how to escape.
Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:
Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.
Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.
Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.
Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.
File a float plan at your marina.
Thunderstorms and weather related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.